MIAMI — Today marks 30 years since Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight departed London Gatwick for Newark. On the carrier’s 30th anniversary, it is giving us a look into its future.
Back in 2007, Virgin Atlantic ordered 15 787-9 Dreamliners, and it also signed for eight options and the purchase rights for 20 more.
Now almost seven years after ordering the Dreamliner, the carrier expects to receive its first 787-9 this September; making it the first European airline to operate the newest 787 family member.
“The 787-9 will make up 40 per cent of our fleet by the end of 2017 which demonstrates our commitment to the Dreamliner as the centrepiece of our future fleet,” Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive Craig Kreeger told reporters.
Starting October 28, Virgin Atlantic will begin flying its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner between London Heathrow and Boston six times a week. Eventually, the carrier will also add Dreamliner flights to Newark, New York JFK, and Washington DC. These will replace the A340-300 fleet.
The new aircraft will be have 31 seats in ‘Upper Class’ (which is the carrier’s business class product), 35 seats in Premium Economy, and 198 seats in Economy.
“We are extremely excited to be welcoming this aircraft to our fleet. After 30 proud years of serving our customers around the world, this is going to revolutionise our airline and bring with it new innovations and a cutting edge product for them to enjoy,” Kreeger told.
Besides planning for the new aircraft to join its fleet, a lot has been going on at Virgin Atlantic. A little over a year ago, Virgin Atlantic launched a domestic subsidiary called Little Red. Although there are reports that there have been poor load factors, Kreeger insists that there are no changes planned for the subsidiary, and he explained that momentum for the product is gaining.
Virgin Atlantic also launched a joint venture with Delta which allows both carriers to connect passengers onto each others networks almost seamlessly. Additionally, the carrier will take over one of Delta’s Atlanta/Heathrow flights later this year.